Saturday, April 14, 2007

Ruth's Report

Ruth: Yesterday, in the snapshot, C.I. noted two Berkeley Daily Planet commentaries. The first was by Marc Sapir, the second was by Brian Edwards-Tiekret. This actually tied into the last report in one aspect so I wanted to address it this week. I was under the impression I understood a policy Sasha Lilley addressed on this month's listeners' report. I am now aware that not only am I confused, the policy itself is confusing.

Marc Sapir's commentary included this reproduced e-mail:

To: Miguel Molina
Re: Call to Action on Flashpoints
While hosting Flashpoints on Thursday 3/15, you urged people to attend the rally scheduled for Sunday 3/18 at Civic Center Plaza by telling listeners to be there.
Due to issues of liability, KPFA programmers are not permitted to urge listeners to attend an event. If damage suits stem from injuries suffered at an event, KPFA could be held liable for actively urging participation. Last Year, on March 22, following a remote broadcast from a rally in San Francisco, chief engineer Michael Yoshida sent a memo to you and the other producers of the rally asking you to be aware of and prevent such language in future broadcasts. This is a second notification. KPFA program hosts may not actively urge listeners to attend events. This is the case whether during a regular program or a special remote broadcast. Thank you for your cooperation,
Sasha Lilley

Brian Edwards-Tiekert, part of the KPFA news staff, responded to Mr. Sapir and, for this report, we are focused on this section:

Sapir's letter claims that Lilley has issued a new "edict" against "advocacy"--in fact, there is no such rule. What exists is a decades-old policy, recorded in KPFA’s staff training manuals since at least the 1980s and shared by community radio stations across the nation, prohibiting what the Federal Communi-cations Commission describes as "Call to Action" language when announcing an event. Programmers at KPFA are welcome and often encouraged to tell our listeners when and where a given demonstration is--we just can’t use phrasing like "be there." (Such language, can, under the right circumstances, get the station sued, fined by the FCC, or in trouble with the IRS.)

I need to note that Mr. Edwards-Tiekert takes Mr. Sapir to task for misspelling a name and I thought that was childish. I also thought, considering KPFA's mistakes in pronunciation, it was uncalled for. Ehren Watada's mother is Carolyn Ho, for instance. Is Mr. Edwards-Tiekert aware of how her last name has been pronounced on air at KPFA? I do not intend to respond to or endorse either commentary but Ms. Ho is not the only person who has been given a new name by KPFA, in many cases while they were being interviewed on KPFA, so I did want to note that if Mr. Edwards-Tiekert wants to zoom in on the spelling of a name, there is a long list of mangled names on air. In the case of Ms. Ho, it was all the more surprising since she was being interviewed at the time. In the same interview, she paused at one point and, on my end, I pictured her deliberating whether or not to correct the interviewer on how many years her son Ehren was facing in prison. So, to underscore this, I really do not think that pointing out a misspelled name by Mr. Sapir really accomplishes anything. If it helps, Laura Flanders' names is "flan-ders," not "flawn-ders" as Ms. Lilley pronounced it during the listeners' report. Is that minor? So is a misspelled name.

Ms. Lilley, interim program director, and Lemlem Rijio, interim general manager, hosted the listeners' report. Ms. Rijio was advocating living trusts. Ms. Rijio promoted an event where you could receive information on how to implement a living trust and how you could make KPFA a beneficiary of your estate. This was not in passing, this went on and on. Was that in violation of the policy? "Planned gifts, such as bequests . . ." As she continued to discuss it ("these large gifts, these large planned gifts"), and continued and continued, at twenty minutes into the broadcast of the listeners' report, I did wonder whether this was a "listeners' report" or a fund drive?

Ms. Rijio then announced that KPFA was "hosting an event with Laura Flanders" on April 18th because "she has a new book out, she will be touring". Was that advocating or promoting? When Ms. Rijio stated, "I want to remind everyone to save the date for our peace awards," "save the date" sounds a great deal to me like "Be there." That is advocating.

Was that in violation of the policy? I have no idea. Mr. Edwards-Tiekert noted a policy but did not quote it. I did ask C.I., "Do you know the policy?" I was told, "No, but I can get you a copy of it if you need it." I declined based on the fact that it should be, as Larry Bensky would point out, easily accessible online at the website.

One thing that I assume is that, of anyone broadcast over Pacifica airwaves, any station, Amy Goodman knows every policy. I assume that because Ms. Goodman can and does speak often on the importance of independent media and on the importance of Pacifica. My grandson Jayson and I went to one of her events this year. As someone who had to fight to preserve both the integrity of her own program, Democracy Now!, and the life of Pacifica, I am sure Ms. Goodman knows every in and out of all regulations, rules and guidelines.

Jayson and I attended Ms. Goodman's event because he heard her announce it on air during Democracy Now!, so off we went to Connecticut College. We enjoyed the event, we had a wonderful time. I would encourage others to turn out if Ms. Goodman is in your area. In fact, Ms. Goodman will be at Boston's Faneuil Hall this Monday for an event with Howard Zinn that starts at 7:00 pm. I would urge everyone to, "Be there."

Did I just open myself to liability issues? If the crowd gets out of hand, stands on their seats, begins dancing and chanting: "Goodman! Zinn! Goodman! Zinn!", am I liable?

Stands on their seats? I bring that up for a reason. My late husband was in a college band and may have been happier if he pursued that as opposed to becoming a doctor. Outings, after we were married, after we had started having children, always revolved around music. We would get a sitter and off we would go, at least three times a year, to a concert. I can remember our seeing the amazing Janis Joplin and the entire hall shook. Ms. Joplin urged everyone to dance.
That was a very big issue "back in the day." The Doors was another group that the police would clamp down in the midst of concerts over the issue of dancing. Those too young to remember that period may remember December 3, 1979 event in Cincinnati, Ohio when many hoping to attend a concert by The Who were trampled?

I bring those events up because, like Ms. Flanders book event, they may be seen as events that are about promoting a non-activism event. For the record, I do not believe Ms. Flanders can participate in an event that does not require activism and applaud her for that. But when Ms. Goodman notes an upcoming event by saying, "I hope to see you there," is the difference that she is on a book tour?

If so, book tours, concert tours, and other appearances that may be seen by some as "non-political" are not necessarily "safer" in terms of liability. If Mr. Molina had stated "I hope to see you there" instead of "Be there" would that have not resulted in an e-mail about policy? Ms. Lilley declared in the listeners' report this month that, "Programmers should not say you must come down to this demonstration." So does the policy only apply to demonstrations?

What of events, even book events, that take place as part of larger gatherings? Are liability concerns raised there?

In his commentary, Mr. Edwards-Tiekert raises the issue of whether or not Mr. Santora attempted to contact KPFA about his issues? To clarify, my own report is not for KPFA. My own report is, often, me noting things I enjoyed or, more often, me addressing concerns of the community. Through C.I., I have met two board members of Pacifica and some people involved in KPFA. Other than stating I wish they would air more coverage on Iraq, I have not 'raised issues' with them. That may be my failing but I honestly enjoy listening to KPFA and, in terms of ongoing criticism, would only wish that they would address Iraq more.

However, I do hear complaints from community members and often from visitors. Mr. Edwards-Tiekert may or may not. But if he does not grasp that the e-mail to Mr. Molina feeds into a belief that Flashpoints is being targeted, he is not very in touch with listeners. The first time I ever mentioned Flashpoints in a report, the response was about 20 e-mails from visitors repeating these nasty, vile claims about host Dennis Bernstein. Those visitors only write when I mention Dennis Bernstein. Are the claims true? I do not think so. But it is very clear that Flashpoints has a group that it makes very uncomfortable. I mention the e-mails for that reason, not to embarrass Mr. Bernstein, who does a fine job on air, but because, as I am sure he is aware, a segment wants him to just vanish.

I enjoy Mr. Bernstein's work, I enjoy Nora Friedman-Barrows' work and appreciate all that the Flashpoints team provides. Within in the community, I am not alone on that and there has been an increase in the amount of e-mails on Flashpoints, praising it, following C.I.'s featuring of Robert Knight's "The Knight Report." Mary, for instance, wrote to say that she was listening to Flashpoints again.

Flashpoints is not a "pretty" show. I appreciate the music and the poetry elements that have been added but Flashpoints is a very hard hitting show. That is a good thing, in my opinion, and needed. The many community members devoted to the show know that. They also sense that Flashpoints gets little support from KPFA.

Are they right or wrong? I have no idea. I do know that Flashpoints often has amazing interviews and they are not highlighted during The Morning Show's news breaks. Recently, we have twice heard of Amy Goodman interviewing someone on that morning's Democracy Now! and yet the same guest making the same points on Flashpoints a week prior did not warrant attention from the news breaks. In terms of their exclusive interview with US war resister Ivan Brobeck, there was no excuse for it not to be noted the following day on the news break. It was an exclusive interview, it was the only radio interview he was granting. He gave it to Flashpoints the night before he turned himself in. There is no excuse for the news break on The Morning Show not noting that interview with "Mr. Brobeck will be turning himself in later today."

Let me repeat that, there is no excuse for it. KPFA had an exclusive interview with a war resister who was turning himself in the next day. The news breaks, the news, should have noted it. It did not get noted. Philip Maldari recently did an interview with Ms. Barrows-Friedman which I enjoyed and praise them both for. But that is the only time I have heard Ms. Barrows-Friedman interviewed on KPFA. She reports on the Middle East for Flashpoints. Let me repeat that, she reports on it and she reports from it. That is a wonderful resource and you would assume KPFA would be eager to utilize an in house reporter. Ms. Barrows-Friedman was the only KPFA staff to travel to Doha for the media conference. She may have been the only Pacifica staff to attend. But her reports of the conference were not utilized elsewhere on the KPFA schedule. There have been many interviews conducted by Mr. Bernstein, with Robert Parry, Michael Ratner and others, that have provided analysis and information on breaking news but they have not been included the next day on the news breaks.

So when Mr. Molina receives an e-mail, such as the one he did from Ms. Lilley, I hear about in e-mails. Mr. Edwards-Tiekert may not. He may not be aware of the perception that Flashpoints is treated like the naughty stepchild of the station. He may be unaware that some listeners wonder why, since Democracy Now! is aired twice daily on KPFA, before and after The Morning Show, when Aileen Alfandary features a clip of the day's program in her news breaks, it is seen less as "news" and more as a "commercial" for that day's Democracy Now! He may be unaware of the very real perception that the work Flashpoints does is consistently ignored by the KPFA news staff.

Once upon a time, there may have been good reason for that. When Sandra Lupien was doing the news breaks for The Morning Show, KPFA was still forming its online presence. That presence is now formed and it is growing. KPFA is to be strongly congratulated and applauded for their amazing archives. Their system of archiving is the finest of any Pacifica station. You can pull a day from a calendar, you can pull up archives by accessing the show via the broadcast schedule. You can merely browse. They are keeping their entire archive online, not just for 90 days, but permanently. That is an amazing resource and amazing tool. The only exception may be music programming, there I am not sure and, possibly, Ms. Lilley could address that in next month's listeners' report. But for those able to listen online, a valuable resource exists. Zach listens over the airwaves but, from time to time, will see something mentioned at this site or at other community sites that he missed and utilize the archives to listen. He wrote that, "KPFA has the best archive system. Visit NPR and go through the various clicks and redirects and you will see what I mean."

Mr. Edwards-Tiekert, in his commentary, notes the strong online presence KPFA has built and is building. So we are no longer in "once upon a time." Noting something worthy on Flashpoints not only informs morning listeners who may have missed it, it can direct many to the archives which are being used.

Like Mr. Bernstein, Mr. Edwards-Tiekert can be very passionate on air. I do not find that to be a bad thing. But his rushing in, in print or on air, does strike many as "apologist." Megan and Mia both e-mailed me about that and shared that they do not believe he intends to be but have noted, in the commentary and in his recent call-in to Larry Bensky, that he often seems to rush over one point to reach what he wants to talk about. I applaud passion and dedication. But if the issue of the e-mail sent to Mr. Molina exists in a vacuum for Mr. Edwards-Tiekert, I would strongly urge him to familiarize himself with the real feeling KPFA listeners of Flashpoints have that the show is ignored by the station. I am not saying that the show is ignored. I am stating that is the impression and I have provided some of the reasons why they feel that way in this report.

It does not help when Houston's station drops Flashpoints. I have waited, at C.I.'s request, to address an issue that bothered KPFT listeners. It came up during a fund drive. I spoke to C.I. about it and our feeling was that to raise it during the fund drive might hurt KPFT so I intended to bring it up when I could work it in after the fund drive had ended. As listeners to Pacifica stations know, Amy Goodman regularly fund raises on every station. To call her "effective" is to insult her. That is a program just by itself. Yes, she repeats the station's phone numbers and asks you to "please" donate but she also provides this commentary, off the top of her head, that is a listen just by itself. It is not the same commentary over and over. One day, hearing her on WBAI, I decided to try to follow her around the net, this was in late 2005, and see if what she had said was her prepared bit for the day. It was not. It is off the top of her head, pulling a strand here and a strand there.

So to call what she does "effective" is to insult her. Six KPFT listeners felt insulted enough to e-mail that they felt she was insulted in a recent fund drive. Ms. Goodman was offering a special premium where, I believe for a thousand dollar donation, you could attend a broadcast of Democracy Now!, sit right there on the set, and have a meal with her. Roy wrote that one day she had to continue offering that premium because she had announced one and quickly it became six because they were going so fast. During the pledge drive on KPFT, a male at the station identified it as a "date." While I am sure he meant no harm, six listeners e-mailed to say that was offensive, to say that Ms. Goodman twice tried to correct him ("nicely," wrote Barbara). Had that been Michael Ratner, co-host of Law and Disorder, offering the same sort of premium, would it have been referred to as a "date"? I do not know but, as Barbara noted, "date" can quickly devolve to other things. Ms. Goodman was not offering a "date." This was not a romantic get together. Those who purchased that premium were supporting KPFT and, in the process, getting to pick a day to observe how Democracy Now! is put together, as well as the chance to speak to Ms. Goodman about any issue they chose to.

I heard Ms. Goodman offer that premium on WBAI and on KPFA, she offered it on all Pacifica stations during the fund drive, but I only heard it on those stations. This was not presented as a "date" by Ms. Goodman on those stations or by anyone appearing with her, on KPFA, I believe the person was Jim Bennett. This may seem a minor thing to some but it was not minor to the six members who e-mailed about it. I did not think it was minor, nor did C.I., but I tabled the issue until the fund drive was over with the promise that I would insert it into a report in the future even if, as I am doing here, I had to graft it on.

Ms. Goodman is a journalist in a time where serious journalism is in decay. She is someone who has worked to conduct herself in a professional manner. To sell a premium as a "date" with her is demeaning, in my opinion. It was demeaning to the six listeners who e-mailed to complain. Barbara wrote that she turned off her radio after the male continued to bill it as a "date" because "the whole thing made me uncomfortable. I thought this was a wonderful gift and was sitting there wondering could I pull together enough for a thousand dollar donation and then he kept referring to it as a 'date' and I just soured on it."

I should add that I did not listen to it. Reading the e-mails about it left me insulted. C.I., who had received e-mails on it as well, did make a point to go to KPFT's archives and listen the day after it aired. C.I.'s states it was repeatedly referred to as a date, that Goodman repeatedly corrected the use of that term but it continued to persist.

When we went to Texas last month, for the week, to speak about Iraq and meet with community members, we spent a day in the Houston area. Repeatedly, someone would pull me aside and ask me if I was aware of that and why I had not addressed it? I explained, as I have above, that I was waiting and why and was struck by the fact that it bothered a lot more than the six members who e-mailed about it. Tuesday evening, Barbara had planned a for-women-only event that Betty, Rebecca, Trina, Ava, C.I., and I attended and spoke at. At that event, the "date" issue was not a pull someone aside and discuss it. Men and women had been offended, I was aware of that from the six e-mails and from the encounters during the day in Houston. But that evening, it was clear that a lot of women were not just offended, as they should be, they were very angry about it. I was asked by Barbara's sister to share her feelings when I addressed this, which were that, "There's a lot too much dee-jaying at the station and too little awareness."

I asked C.I. this morning for a comment because we all know the "in fairness" reflex. C.I. stated, "The women and men who were bothered by it had every reason to be bothered. It was offensive. It was offensive to what Goodman stands for and it was offensive to women. The repeated use of the term was not, I feel, meant to be offensive. You had a man who was very into the moment of the pledge drive, the pledges were coming in at an amazing rate, he was very excited and he used a term that popped into his head and ran with it. Not in an attempt to offend, why would he want to offend anyone when he was asking for money, but just from the exhilaration of the moment. That was a record moment, in terms of fundraising, any public radio station would have been dancing over the numbers. And, to be fair, during that, he made a point to note that a listener had donated a one-time amount of, I believe, twenty-five dollars. He stressed how important that pledge was, how the man was on a fixed-income, and how amazing it was that this first-time listener, on a fixed-income, had donated. He was not attempting to offend anyone. He was trying to be inclusive. 'Date' was the wrong term but, in the moment, it came to him and he ran with it repeatedly. That's not dismissing the feelings of those offended and, let me be clear, when I listened to it, I was offended. In terms of Brian Edwards-Tiekert, I understand why statements on air and in print lead some to feel he's an 'apologist.' While I appreciate why some feel that way, I don't personally see that as the case. He's a defender of KPFA and I think anyone who listens to it is. Everyone's always fighting for KPFA to be the best it can be. But in his presentations, it would be more effective, I feel, if he would address certain things at the top instead of presenting other points. To use the example of the call-in to Larry Bensky, that was a clear cut issue: Are the reports easily accesible online or not? The answer at that moment was, 'No, they are not.' There was nothing wrong with the points he made on air, necessarily, but by not addressing that at the top, he turned off some people. In terms of the commentary, as you said, there is a very strong, very real feeling that Flashpoints is ignored or, worse, under attack so, to be most effective, he should have addressed that in some form and probably at the top of his commentary. By not doing so, anyone reading the commentary is less inclined to make it past a few paragraphs before saying 'apologist' and stopping. When he presents the news, he follows a certain pattern. That can be hard to do, for instance, when you're calling into a live show. But if he would follow the same structure he utilizes when handling the news, what he was saying would reach more people. As it is, a lot of people are tuning out long before he's done and some are dismissing him, unfairly in my opinion, as an 'apologist.' This popped up every now and then, such as when he was featured on listener reports, but it became a huge issue after the phone-in to Sunday Salon. It's, my opinion, an issue of presentation. It's, my opinion, due to the fact that KPFA has suffered very real attacks. He is defending the same way anyone who listens or is part of the station would do; however, the order in which he makes his case, turns some people off because, in the case of the finances, that was 'yes' or 'no' before anything else is addressed or presented."

I sold C.I. on providing a comment by noting that I could pull the Houston issue into the report if they could be tied together. In Friday's snapshot, C.I. noted: "Edwards-Tiekert is a strong member of the news staff. His commentary (and recent call in on air to Larry Bensky) only fans simmering flames for many. I'm not interested in that. (Ruth may be. She can write whatever she wants in her space.) I am interested in war resisters." While C.I. confined the issue to war resisters, Iraq is the focus for C.I. here at the request of members, I can go beyond that and will if members feel something needs to be addressed. Obviously, members who listen to Flashpoints felt this needed to be addressed.

It is also true that, unlike Kat and C.I., I was not listening to KPFA when the battle was going on. I think they are much more reluctant to address some topics as a result of that battle. C.I. gave a "no comment, not interested in the topic" while Kat stated, "When I do criticize KPFA at my site, it's because I'm really ticked off. Most things I do let slide because of the recent history."

She also stated that she read both of the commentaries that appeared in The Berkeley Daily Planet and, "I was semi-surprised C.I. noted them but the issue of war resisters is a big issue to this community. If Tiekert had not included 'war resisters' in the commentary, it wouldn't have been addressed by C.I. I know members had brought up the first commentary and the second one. C.I. was in the middle of dictating the snapshot to a friend when the commentaries were raised by the friend. At that point, C.I. called me and asked me if I had them and could read them over the phone, which I did. I know C.I. hadn't read the second one before I read it aloud. I'm not sure whether the first one had been read or even skimmed. C.I. is correct about the Watada coverage. We'd usually listen to the programs after [they aired] because we were there [Fort Lewis] for the court-martial. Aaron Glantz did do an amazing job but he did that for Free Speech Radio News more often than not. A friend had burned all the coverage down to one disc, Sumner, and we listened to that on the disc as well when we got back. So I'm really not surprised it got addressed Friday. C.I.'s first words after 'hello' were to ask me, Friday, 'Does Tiekert,' Edwards-Tikert, sorry, 'mention war resisters in his commentary?' I had read both, when they came out, and ignored them. Partly due to the recent history and also due to my own laziness. But, if you're asking my opinion of the snapshot, yeah, it needed to be addressed. When I read that sentence, C.I. stopped me and asked me to read it slowly again so that every word could be taken down."

Kat noted that she may ("May, remember I'm lazy") write about this on Monday. I need to note that all week long, Andrea Lewis did amazing work. Had the e-mails not come in about the commentaries, I would have been noting those interviews with Martha Burke, Dave Zirin, Eleanor Smeal and many others on The Morning Show. Friday featured Aaron Glantz and Ms. Lewis speaking with, among others, Dahr Jamail. I also need to thank Dallas who is tagging this report for me and also revisiting some audio to make sure my own memories are correct.

Lastly, Robert e-mailed to note that Ms. Lilley had stated in this month's report that future reports would air "in different time slots. I assume, like me, you're taking the attitude of, when it happens, I'll note it." Yes, Robert, we do share the same attitude. A part of me wanted to applaud that statement but I remember other reports where we were told things such as if you "e-mail" (use the contact form online) or if you phone the listener line, they will address some of those issues in the next report. As we all know, that was not the case in this month's report. If and when the listeners' report airs in different time slots, I will note it and I will praise them for that. But, having heard that something will happen only to find it does not, I am taking the wait and see approach.

NYT: Keeps pimping 'International Zone'

There is nothing good to say about Harold Ford. He never passed up a chance to proclaim hot man love for George W. Bush. He voted in favor of the occupation of Iraq and the awful bankruptcy bill. In an idiotic effort to get the support of redneck Tennesseans he claimed that his black grandmother was white. He made numerous pilgrimages to the Little Rebel Club to have photo ops with said rednecks worshipping the Stars and Bars. Ford is an enemy of progressive ideas and definitely an enemy to black America.
The former Congressman lost his bid for a Senate seat in the November 2006 election, but he is ambitious and he has powerful friends, so he didn't disappear as he should have. No sooner had he lost his race than the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) began a cynical effort to find him a new gig. James Carville, chief Clintonite pundit, used Ford to publicly attack Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Dean managed to do what Clinton acolyte Terry McAuliffe never managed to do in that same position. He won majorities for the Democrats in the House and Senate.
No matter. Ford was their guy and Dean wasn't, so Carville and other Clinton minions publicly called for Dean to be dumped in favor of Ford. The ill conceived coup attempt didn't go anywhere, but Ford ended up back in Washington as chairman of the DLC.
"The DLC pulled the stake out of his heart and he rose again as the evil undead always do."
Ford is always bad news. He will throw black people under the bus if he thinks it will help him. If he had won, his victory would have been used to silence black political thought. We would have been told that Ford represents a new direction for black voters, that progressive politics are passé. Too bad the DLC pulled the stake out of his heart and he rose again as the evil undead always do.

The above is from Margaret Kimeberley's "Harold Ford, Enemy of Black America" (Freedom Rider, Black Agenda Report) and if you're wondering why we're starting with it, have you read this morning's New York Times? Normally, Kimberley is the 'last word' on Saturday, a strong highlight to go out on. We need her at the top of the entry today. This may be her most popular column this year with the community because too many members noted it to list everyone. Judging by the e-mails, this column's popularity has to do with the fact that she's not letting go of reality. There were many people noting the nonsense in The Nation on Junior and the applause he got from the organization we don't name or mention or the slob from the organization who praised him on election night (on Pacifica's coverage). (Rebecca addressed this on election night for those who need a memory jog.) Kimberley mentions The Little Rebel Club and that's another reason the column's popular.

For those who are unaware, the Times, without comment, ran a photo of Ford Junior posing in front of the Confederate Flag. African-American community members are especially furious about that. Carl noted that, at length, in his e-mail. His comments will appear in Polly's Brew Sunday (with his permission). He cannot believe that got so little attention and so little calling out. So the fact that Kimberley (who's noted it before) isn't letting it go is especially appreciated by many citing the column.

I think Kendrick voices the question (still) on many minds which is why isn't Margaret Kimberley invited on CounterSpin, Democracy Now!, go down the list? I have no idea. Maybe she's too strong for them? Maybe they're afraid it won't go down easy because she's not going to speak blandly? (That's not an insult to other guests that have been featured. It is noting the very obvious fact that she is one of the strongest voices the left has and yet she's nowhere to be found on the big left programs.) What does it take?

There is all this discussion about the Democratic Party on those programs and what? People don't think Kimberley has anything to say on that topic? Billie wrote at length about that and I've told her that it needs to be shared and she can have it up here (gladly) or we can carry it over to one of the community newsletters. The thrust of Billie's comments was: Is Kimberley being "ghettoized" due to race?

If you heard CounterSpin, you heard a guest make a huge mistake that went uncorrected. Ava and I will be addressing that and other topics (that guest wasn't the only one making the false claim -- a guest writer at Kimberley's fomer outlet makes the same false claim this week). (Addressing it at The Third Estate Sunday Review tomorrow.) But the guest also asked where the African-American were on TV commenting on Imus? They were rarely invited. (Whoopi Goldberg addressed it on Today.) But I'll save that thought and others for the piece we're doing. The point is where is Margaret Kimberley?

At Black Agenda Report and she, Glen Ford and Bruce Dixon do a wonderful job but why isn't she getting attention from the big radio outlets? I have no idea. It's not a question of whether or not she's worthy, she obvious is.

From worthy to unworthy: Edward Wong's "Qaeda Group in Iraq Says It Led Attack on Parliament ." What do we learn? That the New York Times is still trying to pimp "International Zone." We learn that the easiest way for an Iraqi woman (breathing) to get mentioned by the paper is to endorse the illegal occupation. "Make concessions to Iraq"? Whatever. We learn that all that matters is what the US military says. They note the changed number of deaths from Thursday's bombing (cafe) and that the military changed it. They must be the only outlet that didn't note that the number is in dispute.

We dealt with the nonsense of the "International Zone" yesterday. [And William M. Arking (Washington Post) addressed it far better.]

We know the Times takes dictation. Do they also take orders? This nonsense about the "International Zone" is only fanning flames over the rumor at the paper that they've done another Raymond Bonner, removed a reporter from Iraq at the request of the military.

Maybe it's just the fact that while other news outlets have produced real books about Iraq, they've produced crap? Maybe when Gordo's the best you have to offer in text, you don't want to use "Green Zone" when it's part of the title of one of the finest books written about the illegal war and it was written by someone who writes for another paper?

Turning to radio, Rachel hasn't received an e-mail so we'll grab that by tomorrow morning (WBAI's programs). We will note RadioNation with Laura Flanders which airs Saturdays and Sundays, live, 7:00 pm to 10 pm EST, over Air America Radio stations (or stations that carry their content, actually), XM satellite radio and online. This weekend's line up:

This weekend's all about accountability. Don Imus got his, the World Bank's Wolfie's getting his. Karl Rove's is in the works. We'll get the take from the Seattle when we broadcast live from KPTK AM 1090. And we'll hear how Washington state legislatures are being held to account by their constituents. The legislature just passed new rights for same sex couples this week, and there's an upcoming battle over whether to require pharmacies to dispense birth control pills. We’ll talk to BLYTHE CHANDLER, the deputy director for NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, about that battle, and local activist DAN MERKLE and former state Democratic Party official ALICE WOLDT.
Then, we'll head to Bellingham, WA, where the Minutemen have been flexing their anti-immigration muscle. We'll have our Blue Grit guest of the week, ROSALINDA GUILLEN, who's just back from a hunger strike and march to the border to protest. Plus, with Alberto Gonzales to testify this coming week, we’ll be joined by Nation writer JOHN NICHOLS who's been following the details of the US Attorneys firings that much of the media have been missing. And we’ll welcome Grammy-award winning band OZOMATLI, who'll talk about their new album and update us on their continuing political work.

Blue Grit guest? We're going to be doing something on Laura Flanders' new book (Blue Grit) and a few e-mails have come in on that. So let me clarify, Blue Grit is not about a crayola divide of the 50 states. Flanders doesn't push that nonsense. Nor is it about, "Let's meet who we elected and slobber over them!" Blue Grit is about the people on the ground who are working their butts off to change things. It's not a book about gasbags, it's an invitation to meet the people who are out there trying to make a difference and it takes the time to note what they have accomplished. I don't want to use the word "inspiring" because I think society's really tired of that word (and the Chicken Soup and other books have molested that word to death). "Encouraging" might be a better term if everyone accepts that this isn't phoney rah-rah. This is a look at the reality on the ground and how that reality is distorted in popular narratives. "Rallying cry" might be a better set of words. But there are a number of people who are wondering about the title and the book and e-mailing on it. I recommend it without reservation. (I have a critique, negative, of the cover. I'll save that for Third. That's not a critique of the book, it's a critique of Penguin screwing up what should have been a solid cover. Flanders looks good in the photo, in case anyone's first thought is, "Oh, did they use a bad photo of her?" No, they cluttered the cover. Again, I'll address that at Third.)

Kayla was one of the ones who e-mailed about it early last week. I told her what I've written here and that she should wait for the piece (probably a discussion) at Third and she'd probably want to pick up the book. She already has and wanted this noted: "I got it at Borders. I have a tiny Borders and get really tired of ordering online so it was a real relief to walk into Borders and see it. They even had one copy on the table of new arrivals.) She's on page 88 (as of this morning when she wrote) and says she really enjoys the book. I think most members will. You'll laugh with some stories and examples and you'll gnash your teeth over others (such as the many examples of how the DNC still doesn't get it -- including a story Davey D shares). But this isn't about, "Let's tour the offices in DC." It's not another book on voting that never includes the people other than a few references to "voters."

Marcus wrote that his libary is getting it and he's first on the list. So you can also check (and should utilize) your local libraries.

The following community sites have updated since yesterday morning:

Rebecca's Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude;
Cedric's Cedric's Big Mix;
Kat's Kat's Korner;
Betty's Thomas Friedman is a Great Man;
Mike's Mikey Likes It!;
Elaine's Like Maria Said Paz;
Wally's The Daily Jot;
and Trina's Trina's Kitchen

In Iraq today, at least 50 people are dead from a bombing in Kerbala. The total of dead could reach 100 or close to it across Iraq. (I'm counting 87 deaths in this Reuters' Factbox -- check my math.) Reuters reports a bombing attack on a bridge (that did no structural damage but killed 10). I'm going to repeat what I noted Friday (from a friend serving in Iraq), the concern/speculation is that the earlier bridge attack (Thursday) was part of the resistance attempting to go for long term goals of steering 'traffic' to where attacks could happen more easily.

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Iraq snapshot

Friday, April 13, 2007.  Chaos and violence continue, the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war will reach 3300 shortly (3299 currently), tensions flare between northern Iraq and Turkey and the refugee crisis continues so the US Senate offers help to "up to 500" of the estimated 3 million Iraqis internally and externally displaced.
In war resister news, we'll focus on KPFA and Brian Edwards-Tiekert.  Responding to a commentary by Marc Sapir in The Berkeley Daily Planet last week, Edwards-Tiekert wanted to address the issue of war resisters.  Edwards-Tiekert is an important part of KPFA's news staff and does strong work, but appears to think much more is being covered than actually is.   Sapir, sharing his feelings and fears regarding KPFA, wrote (this was not the thrust of his commentary), "How could KPFA be a useful tool for the GI resisters' movement, the immigrants' rights and sanctuary movements, the prison reform and opposition movements, the new sds [SDS] (already at 160 chapters), . . . if such an edict is upheld?"  Sapir is referring to the fact that KPFA can promote events; however, they can not say "Be there" (as Sasha Lilley explained on the Listeners' Report earlier this month).  Edwards-Tiekert grabs the subsection of that sentence and responds (this was not the thrust of his response), "Clearly, he [Marc Sapir] wasn't listening the week Aaron Glantz traveled to Fort Lewis, Washington, to produce up-to-the minute rports on the failed court martial of First Lieutenant Ehren Watada."  Was Edwards-Tiekert?  Aaron Glantz' reports were largely filed for Free Speech Radio News and re-aired duing the KPFA Evening News and during Aileen Alfandary's newsbreaks during The Morning Show.  Sandra Lupien and Alfandary each spoke with Glantz once during the court-martial on programs other than the Free Speech Radio News.  But, as Edwards-Tiekert well knows, Free Speech Radio News is an independent program, it is not a KPFA program.
Aaron Glantz did a wonderful job reporting on the court-martial for Free Speech Radio News, for IPS, for  His voice gave out and, possibly, had that not happened he would have done more reporting on it for KPFA.  But in terms of reporting (not interviews days after the mistrial was called), Edwards-Tiekert appears to believe that Glantz was reporting on KPFA programs more than he was.  This could result from the fact that it was usually announced (by the news staff) that he would be reporting but, in the morning or evening, what instead aired was a rebroadcast (sometimes edited down) of a report Glantz had done for Free Speech Radio News.
Ehren Watada's court-martial is important.  His upcoming court-martial () will also be important and, hopefully, KPFA will do a better job covering it than they did with the February one.  For that coverage, Aaron Glantz deserves praise.  KPFA?  Not so much. That was February.  Since Watada's court-martial, Agustin Aguayo and Mark Wilkerson have been court-martialed.  Aguayo was court-martialed in Germany, possibly that's why it wasn't covered (reading wires doesn't really replace first person reporting)?  Wilkerson was in Texas.  Texas is much closer to California than DC (Edwards-Tiekert notes KPFA's DC coverage in his response) but it might as well be across the Atlantic.  What of Robert Zabala's historic court case?  Where was KPFA?  Again, reading wire reports (or local press) on air doesn't really replace on the spot reporting.
Edwards-Tiekert muses, "Perhaps Sapir doesn't listen much to the radio station he maligns."  As Ruth pointed out regarded Sasha Lilley's declarations in the Listeners' Report, Lilley doesn't seem to listen a great deal.  In the listners' report she maintained that KPFA news staff promoted, on air, the KPFA webpage of local events when, in fact, that wasn't the case.  KPFA is an important radio station and a historic one.  Edwards-Tiekert is a strong member of the news staff.  His commentary (and recent call in on air to Larry Bensky) only fans simmering flames for many.  I'm not interested in that.  (Ruth may be.  She can write whatever she wants in her space.)  I am interested in war resisters. 
Edwards-Tiekert may feel Watada was covered by the KPFA news.  He really wasn't.  (Off topic, but needs noting again, Philip Maldari, not part of the news staff, did a wonderful job last summer interviewing Bob Watada.)  That false impression may come from on air announcements such as, "Tomorrow morning in the first half-hour of The Morning Show, Aileen Alfandary will speak with Aaron Glantz . . ." -- announcements that were made of coverage that never took place.  (That's not a slam at Alfandary.  Glantz' voice was giving out early on.)  But announcements of intended coverage are not actual coverage.  And re-airing reports done for a non-KPFA produced program (Free Speech Radio News) on KPFA news and news breaks does not indicate that KPFA itself provided coverage.
In February, Kyle Snyder was hauled away in handcuffs (and in his boxers) by Canadian police.  Joci Perri (Citizenship and Immigration) stated the arrest was requested by the US military and that deportation was supposed to follow.  Did KPFA listeners hear about that on the news?  Joshua Key is being 'shadowed.'  Winnie Ng reported the incident that happened at her home.  She was visited by three men, she was told they were Canadian police.  They were looking for Key (Joshua, Brandi and their children stayed with Ng early on after moving to Canada).  Ng's character was called into question (including by some 'friends' in Canada) and the police said it never happened.  Turns out, it did happen.  The Canadian police, WOOPS, did send out one officer . . . with two members of the US military.  Has the KPFA news informed listeners about those developments?  Dean Walcott self-checked out of the US military and went to Canada in December of 2006.  How often has his name came up during news breaks or newscasts?
Here's where the real fault is, the real problem.  Four years into the illegal war and KPFA still has not created a program to focus on Iraq.  Flashpoints started to cover the first Gulf War.  KPFA can't spare one half-hour or hour a week for a program that focuses on Iraq?  Of course they can.  The fact that they haven't is more embarrassing than any of the back and forths or the old history (covered in both Edwards-Tiekert and Sapir's commentaries).  Is KPFA frozen or paralyzed when it comes to new programming?  No.  In fact it did an election series for the 2006 elections.  One would think that an illegal war was at least as important as a mid-term election.
Dean Walcott, the latest to go public, part of the growing movement of war resistance within the military that also includes Ehren Watada, Camilo Mejia, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson,  Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Joshua Key, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia,  Patrick Hart, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum. 
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.
Yesterday in Iraq, the Green Zone was the target of an attack.  AFP notes today that the US military is now saying that the bombing in the parliament's cafeteria killed only one person (but "an Iraqi security officer" maintains "three people died").  Though Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) prefers to call it the "International Zone," as William M. Arkin (Washington Post) notes of the Green Zone, "The Zone is officially known as the international zone, a less inflammatory label that suggests non-U.S. control, but everyone knows the truth." Bushra Juhi (AP) reports that al Qaeda is claiming responsibility for the bombing and that it was a suicide bombing and that the Iraqi parliament met today ("about 90 minutes") but turnout was low due to the traffic ban and to the fact that many were visiting the wounded from yesterday's bombing.  While AP repeats that the culprit is thought to be a bodyguard to a Sunni lawmaker, The Australian reports that three cafeteria workers are being questioned as well as "some parliamentary guards".  CNN notes that this is due to the suspicion that the bombing was an 'inside job'.  Robert Burns (AP) reveals: "The U.S. military will not take over security of the Iraqi parliament building in the wake of the deadly suicide bombing in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone, a top commander said Friday.  Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, the No. 2 U.S. commander in Iraq, said "it is clear we still have a long way to go to provide stability and security to Iraq."  Michael Howard (The Guardian of London) informs, "US officials admitted last night that the bombing of the Iraqi parliament shows that not even the heavily fortified Green Zone is safe any more, despite the security crackdown launched earlier this year in the Iraqi capital."  Despite that reality, Robin Wright and Karin Brulliard (Washington Post) report that John McCain, "who this week spoke of 'the first glimmers' of progress in the new U.S. effort, said the attack on the parliament building does not change the 'larger picture'."
Or, as William M. Arkin (Washington Post) observes, "For the past few weeks, we have been told by the administration and the military that the Baghdad Security Plan and the surge are working.  Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) had his Snoopy in the tank moment walking through a marketplace in a well-oiled photo op, accompanied of course by American Humvees and soldiers and roof-top snipers.  The Senator and his delegation then repaired to the 'relative safety' of the Green Zone, speaking of their safe drive to and from the airport to downtown, a trip by dignitaries that is usually made by helicopter.  The boast itself spoke volumes about the truth of the Green Zone, and of Baghdad."
Security and refugess was a topic today on KPFA's The Morning Show, where Andrea Lewis and Aaron Glantz spoke with guests including Dahr Jamail and Sarah Holewinski (Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict).  (20 minutes in, Dahr speaks for the first time other than the normal greetings.) 
Dahr: Well without a doubt, I think offering someone $2,500 when they've had a loved one killed by occupation forces is - is quite an insult especially now with the rate of inflation and the conditions in Iraq.  I think the primary thing that I'd absolutely agree with her with  is that the Iraqi people who are sufffering right now as we speak and all those who have lost loved ones certainly deserve and justifiably have earned compensation levels that are very, very  fair and, in my opinion, I think that they should be compensation levels like we see in the United States when someone dies in a plane crash and there's a lawsuit or when someone dies in a car crash, typically millions of dollars are awarded to someone.  How would people in the United States react if they lost a loved one and the government offered them $2,500? 
[. . .]
I would start by  amending the numbers that Nabil just said.  I have updated numbers from meeting with Sybella Wilkes yesterday who is the UNHCR regional public information officer.  And according to UNHCR,  there are, there's 1.2 million is the minimum estimate they have in Syria alone.  The governement of Syria, who UNHCR admitted probably has more accurate figures than they do, estimates there's between 1.4 and 1.5 million Iraqi refugees here [Syria], hundreds of thousands of those are Shia as well.  I think people in the US are led to believe that it's only the Sunni population that's leaving and, while they are the majority, it's important to note that there's a giant number and growing number of Shia up here in Syria as well.  But really the situation is really -- even just those numbers, as if they're not staggering enough by themselves -- the situation here is UNHCR has only actually registered approximately 70,000 of these people.  So that means these are only the 70,000 that literally have so little of anything that they have to literally go there for food and in some way to find some housing.  So the crisis is certainly going to grow  exponentially as these other Iraqis here, and I have met with many of them, are living on their savings right now.  What are they going to do when their savings run out?   Syria right now has  approximately a 20 to 25% unemployment rate.  Add in another between 1.2 to 1.5 million Iraqis, so already that figure is too low.  And as time persists, of course, the situation will worsen.  And we have between 30 and 50,000 more Iraqis coming into Syria alone every single month. 
Andrea Lewis: And Dahr what are some of the refugees telling you, other than concerns about their finances which obviously are important, what other things are you hearing from the people you're talking to?
Dahr: Well I'm actually sitting here right now with two friends who just came out yesterday from Baquba and they're telling me things like the US military has absolutely zero control of that city.  There's only one street where one kilometer of that street is controlled by the US military and that's because that's primarily where their base is.  The banks in Baquba have zero money whatsoever.  It's a ghost town in the middle of the day.  There's no marekts open.  Of course, no one is working.  And, as they described it, al Qaeda is in total control of  that entire city and they state that the US military there is doing little to nothing to stop them. 
Aaron Glantz:  Well that's where Zarchawy was killed and we all remember Abu Musab al-Zarchawy.  He was a big enemy and now he's dead and he was killed in Baquba.
Dahr: Right and clearly the situation has done nothing but degrade.  As they said, it's like something out of a scene of a movie  where literally it's a ghost town, nobody leaves their homes, nobody goes out.  Even traveling from there to Baghdad, which is just barely 20 miles away, people just don't even make that trip. For them to even come up to Syria, they had to go, completely bypass Baghdad,  and go to the north in order to come up here.  Of course it was very far out of their way.  But that just gives you an idea of how horrible the security situation is.  There's literally no security and no regular life there to be found.
Turning to news from the US Senate, Reuters reports that legislation passed allowing for the admission of a whopping (yes, that is sarcasm) "500 Iraqi and Afghan translators into the United States a year because their lives are in danger for helping U.S. forces during the wars."
Last month, Tom Hayden (Huffington Post) noted that it was past time for US citizens to ask exactly who their tax dollars supported in Iraq.  This month (at The Huffington Post), Hayden notes: "The time has come to understand the new de facto US policy in Iraq: to support, fund, arm and train a sectarian Shi'a-Kurdish state, one engaged in ethnic cleansing, mass detention and murder of Sunni Arabs."  Hayden argues that the training of police fails to acknowledge who is being trained and for what -- as with El Salvador the 'blind eye' is a pretense upon the part of the US government.  Tom Hayden proposes a series of recommendations including "peace advocates and critics must focus on the new reality that American blood and taxes are being spent on propping up a sectarian government that wants to carry out an ethnic cleansing of the Sunni population."
Keeping the above in mind and turning to the northern section of Iraq, yesterday Umit Enginsoy (Turkish Daily News) reported on the conference in DC regarding the the upcoming, proposed referendum that would etermine the fate of Kirkuk (an Iraqi citiy that "sits on nearly 40 percent of Iraq's oil") which Iraqi president Jalal Talabani is pushing (Talabani fell ill as the latest wave of the crackdown began earlier this year, he was represented at the conference by his son Qubad Talabani who is also "the representative for the Kurdistan regional government").  The issues revolve around the oil, obviously, and also around the demographic makeup of Kirkuk and who gets a vote with Turcomen and Arabs concerned over what "hundreds of thousands of Kurds [who] have flocked into Kirkuk in recent years while the number of Kurds expelled under Saddam's regime could be measured by tens of thousands." 
Laith al-Saud (CounterPunch) explores the issue of the resettling, "Since the 2003 invasion of the country myth has taken precedence over history and Kurdish politicians have adopted the methods of that other myth-based nation-state in the region-Israel, to establish claims . . .  During the invasion, Kurdish peshmerga (militias) entered Kirkuk and established de facto control of the city.  Since then, as has been reported by the Center for Research on Globalization, Kurdish militias have forcibly evicted people from their homes, engaged in Murder, assassination and a slow ethcnice cleansing.  The first victims in this regard have been the Arabs.  Since the Arabs there are largely associated with Baa'th policy they have seen little support from the regime in Baghdad.  Less publicized has been the targeting of Assyrians and other smaller minorities in the region.  But the largest group in the city -- and the one that promises to be the most resistant to Kurdish aggression -- is the Turcomen. Ethnically Turks, the Turcomen have lived in the area for over eight-hundred years and have strong ties to Turkey."
Patrick Cockburn (CounterPunch) notes of the referendum: "The Kurds expect that large areas of eastern, northern and western Ninevah province will join theKRG, not not Mosul city itself because it has an Arab majority.  The Kurds are absolutely determined to get what they consider their rights after years or persecution, expulsion and genocide.  They rightly think that they now have an historic opportuniy to create a powerful near independent state within Iraq: They are America's only effective allies in Iraq; they are powerful in Baghdad; The non-Kurdish parts of the Iraqi government are weak."
At the conference, the US appeared to waffle (we'll get back to the point).  Michael Kuser and Guy Dinmore (Financial Times of London) note that Turkey's concern is that "an independent Kurdish state" will be created.  This stems from Turkey's own issues in the southern part of its country where a historical and ongoing battle by Kurdish inhabitants of the area to gain self-autonamy has been rejected.If Iraq is partitioned off into regions and/or Kirkuk and other northern areas become their own independent body, Turkey's concerns include how such a breaking up could effect their own country.  Chris Toensing (Foreign Policy In Focus) summed up the recent conflict within Turkey: "Since the invasion [of Iraq], the Turkish military and security services -- known to Turks as the 'deep state' -- have reasserted themselves, to the detriment of Turkish democracy.  They are resisting even the Justice and Development Party's modest efforts to reach out to the country's Kurdish population, and inveighing against any ceasfire with the renewed Kurdish insurgency in the southeast.  Far-right social elements associated with the 'deep state' are rallying in favor of chauvinistic versions of Turkish nationalism; in January, one such militan murdered an Armenian-Turkish journalist who sought to reconcile Turks' and Armenians' understanding of the 1915 Aremian genocide."
 Another concern on the part of Turkey pointed out by Kuser and Dinmore is that their border is not respected by "combat rebels from the Kurdish Wokers party (PKK)".  Lebanon's The Daily Star reports that Turkish General Yasar Buyukanit has "asked the government" of Turkey "for approval to launch a cross-border incursion into northern Iraq, signaling growing frustration over a lack of action by Iraqi and US forces against Kurdish guerrillas. This follows, as Umit Enginsoy notes, that the head of Iraq's Kurdish region, Massoud Barzani, stated last week if Turkey did not stop interfering in Iraq's northern region, Iraq would "retaliate by intervening in Turkey's Kurdish-related matters.  The rising tensions come as Turkey's president, Ahmet Necdet Sezer, prepares to step down (the parliament electes a new president in May).  The Turkish Daily News presents a sample of Buyukanit's press conference where he touched on a number of issues, including political ones.
As the tensions rise and some commentators wonder what the US is doing -- signaling both ways is the answer.  Fortunately, the issue is in questionable hands: Hoover Institute's Barbara Stephenson is now a 'diplomat' ("deputy senior advisor and coordinator to the secretary of state").  In 1998, she was a "homemaker" and apparently $519,200 in donations is all it takes to buy a job at the State Department under US Secretary of State and Anger Condi Rice.  (It's also a good little circle jerk since, Rice was "the Thomas and Barbara Stephenson Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institute").  Stephenson's main claim to fame/infamy may be her declaration of Iraqis, "They need to want this more than we do."  Spoken by the person who some would argue bought her way into an administration.
From the north to the south, Ali al-Fadhily (IPS) reports on the protests that took place Monday calling for foreign troops (all non-Iraqi troops) to leave the country. Historian Mahmood al-Lamy tells al-Fadhily, "Basra is the biggest southern city and the only Iraqi city that has a port near the Gulf.  It is now controlled by various militias who fight each other from time to time over an oil smuggling business that is flourishing under the occupation."
Simon Assaf (Great Britain's Socialist Worker)  reminds that the protest on Monday (in Najaf) "was the biggest in Iraq since the massive unity demonstrations in the early days of the occupation" and that uniformed Iraqi soldiers joined in the protest.
Hussein Kadhmim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports one civilian dead from a roadside bombing in Baghdad, a Baghdad mortar attack that killed one person and left 15 wounded,
"a primary school was exploded in Instar village of Bani Saad," "a public clinic at (Tibtib) village" was bombed, and "LC Falih Hassan of the Iraqi national police was killed today after a road side bomb targeted his vehicle today after noon.  Three of his body guards were killed."  CBS and AP note a Baghdad roadside bomb claimed the life of a police officer and left four other officers injured as well as one citizen injured.  Reuters reports a second Baghdad mortar attack killed two people and left 8 more wounded, a Hilla bombing killed a police officer and left three others wounded, and a mortar attack in Iskandariya wounded 10 people.
Hussein Kadhmim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a woman wounded during an attack on a police patrol.  Reuters reports that Mohammed Abd al-Hameed ("Mosque imam in the northern city of Mosul . . . well known figure in the Sunni Muslim Scholars' Association") was shot dead in Mosul, three guards of the Sunni Iraqi Islamic Party offices were wounded in an attack in Hilla, and an attack on a barber shop left two people "seriously wounded."
Hussein Kadhmim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports five corpses discovered in Baghdad,
Reporters Without Borders notes that two corpses were discovered in Mosul yesterday: Iman Yussef Abdallah ("journalist for a radio station operated by a group of Mosul trade unions") and her husband.  She "was the second journalist to be murdered in Mosul this year and the 13th in Iraq."
Today the US military announced: "A Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldier died April 12 due to a non-battle related cause." And they announced: "An MND-B Soldier died when a patrol was attacked with small arms fire north of the Iraqi capital. The unit was conducting a security patrol when the attack occurred." [Both were noted last night.  They were announced Friday Iraq time.]  And they announced: "An MND-B Soldier died and one other was wounded when their vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device south of Baghdad April 12.  The unit was conducting a security patrol in the area when the attack occurred."  And they announced: "Two MND-B Soldiers were killed and seven others were wounded when their patrol base came under attack by anti-Iraqi forces south of Baghdad April 12.  Two Iraqi interpreters were also killed in the attack."  ICCC's total for the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war is 3299 and 52 is the total for the month thus far.
Finally, the Austin American-Stateman weighs in with an editorial commenting on the decision by the White House to extend tours of duty to 15 months while, at the same time, searching for someone ( a war 'czar' -- "The first and most obvious is that a war szar already exists: the president of the United States is the commander in chief.  The novelty of the idea doesn't make it viable.") to run the illegal war in Iraq and concludes, "It is especially troubling when you consider that the Bush administration is asking more and more from military personnel who can't appoint someone else to do their jobs for them."

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There is not much left in Baghdad that all its residents, Sunnis and Shiites, laborers and professors, consider their own. But the Sarafiya bridge, flung across the Tigris, tied the city together, literally and metaphorically.
When the bridge was destroyed early Thursday morning by a truck bomb that collapsed a large section into the river, Baghdad mourned. People who had crossed the bridge every day to go to their jobs on the opposite side gathered on the riverbanks and stood weeping as if they had lost someone they loved.
More people have died in many other bombings, but the destruction of the bridge struck at the city’s soul, at its lingering romance with an all but vanished image of Baghdad as a Paris of the Middle East.

The above is from Alissa J. Rubin's "Latest Casualty Is Symbol of City’s Heyday and Unity" in this morning's New York Times. Though there has been some speculation about the parliament bombing (who benefits, who was attacked), I haven't heard much of the bridge bombing which is surprising when you consider that it connects the city and the US plan is now to divide Baghdad up into 'gated' communities. The only thing I've heard from anyone serving in Iraq was wondering if the resistance was thinking 'long term strategy' and this was part of an effort to better coordinate attacks? (Take out the bridge, where things moved a little quicker, and, due to check points and traffic, other areas are congested and those waiting are "sitting ducks".)

Martha notes Joshua Partlow and Sylvia Moreno's "'This Is Tough News': Soldiers and Their Families Brace for Extended Tours" (Washington Post):

They found out by reading exasperated e-mails from their spouses, hearing somber announcements from their platoon commanders, seeing snippets of the secretary of defense at a televised news conference: The American soldiers who thought they were staying in Iraq one year would now stay 15 months. All of them.
From Texas to Baghdad and Baqubah to the Beltway, the reaction Thursday among U.S. soldiers and their families to the news of the mass extension was akin to a collective groan.

"It flat-out sucks, that's the only way I can think to describe it," said Pvt. Jeremy Perkins, 25, who works in an engineering battalion that clears roadside bombs in the embattled city of Baqubah, about 35 miles northeast of Baghdad. "I found this out today from my squad leader. I still haven't told my wife yet. I'm just trying to figure out exactly how I'm going to break it to her that 'Honey, uh, yeah, might be home before our next anniversary. Sorry I missed the last one.' "
For Perkins, as for many other soldiers in Iraq and their loved ones back home, the dismay derived not so much from surprise -- rumors of such a possibility had been circulating for weeks -- nor even from extra time in war zones. The worst was the prospect of the continued strain of missing friends and relatives.

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NYT: Attempting to popularize "International Zone"

A suicide bomber struck deep inside the heavily fortified International Zone on Thursday, killing eight people when he detonated his explosives inside the Parliament building, just a few feet from the main chamber.
In a separate and in some ways equally traumatic attack early in the day, a truck bomb destroyed the beloved 60-year-old Sarafiya bridge across the Tigris and killed six people. The heavily traveled bridge has long been a symbol of Baghdad, illustrated on old postcards and drawings from a more peaceful time.
The attack on Parliament was the worst in the International Zone since the area was established four years ago, when it was known as the Green Zone. At a time when Iraqis are increasingly questioning the government’s ability to protect them, the bombing raised the troubling possibility that it could not even fully protect itself, although the zone is at the wellspring of American and Iraqi military power in the city.

The above is from Alissa J. Rubin's "8 Iraqis Killed in Bomb Attack at Legislature" in this morning's New York Times. Micah wondered why the "International Zone" when everyone calls it the "Green Zone"? For starters, the Timid's never been able to think for itself when there's offical-ese to be pushed ("International Zone" certainly advances the lie that it wasn't and isn't a US dominated war and occupation). More amusing is how Rubin slips in that puppet of the occupation, Nouri al-Maliki, was "traveling" and in South Korea. Like it was just a spur of the moment road trip and as though he didn't have business to push and promote there (chiefly the selling of the privatization of Iraq's oil). Meanwhile, Reuters is reporting "prior intelligence" on the attack.

Martha notes Karin Brulliard and Robin Wright's "Blast Kills 8 at Iraqi Parliament Building
Lawmakers Dead In Suicide Attack; Bridge Destroyed
" (Washington Post):

Three months after President Bush pledged more troops to stabilize Baghdad and two months after a new security plan was launched, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Thursday that the operation was still only "at the beginning" and would continue to involve "good days and bad days."
Appearing with Rice in Washington, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a presidential hopeful who this week spoke of "the first glimmers" of progress in the new U.S. effort, said the attack on the parliament building does not change the "larger picture."
The bomb ripped through the parliament's crowded cafeteria at 2:30 p.m., filling the room with thick dust and unnerving parliament members who had just finished a lively, well-attended legislative session. The U.S. military said at least eight people were killed and 23 were wounded.
Among the dead was Sunni politician Mohammed Awad, parliament members said. Iraqi state television said a second legislator, whom it did not name, also was killed.

Crazy John McCain, bound and determined to be the last (War) Cheerleader standing, no matter how insane it makes him look.

DK notes Xinhua's "Iraqi parliament holds special session after attack:"

Members of the Iraqi parliament reconvened on a special session Friday to condemn a suicide bombing inside the parliament complex the day before in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone, which killed eight and injured 23 others.
Speaker Mahmud al-Mashhadani addressed the gathering after the session began with a recitation of prayers from the Koran, state television showed.
"This session is a challenge against all the terrorists who want to stop the democracy process in Iraq. The ship of Iraq will keep moving to the secure land while the terrorism's ship will capsize," al-Mashhadani said.

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